so cheap and juicy!

I was really rather unfair about Regina Spektor's new album, Begin To Hope. I had a pretty strong, negative reaction against it the first time I listened to it. Yeah, it still sort of sounds like a Top 40, but I have listened to it a lot the last few days, constantly stuck in traffic as I usually am, and it has really grown on me.

Begin To Hope is much more subtle and nuanced than I originally gave Regina credit for. Beneath that classicly trained voice, there is this sort of whimsy that only Regina can really do. A lot of people consider her part of the antifolk movement, but there is really something more refined about Regina Spektor that puts her at the periphery of that genre. She certainly doesn't sound like any of the usual suspects, but her cadences and staccatos and strange lyrical content certainly set her apart from the "uncharacteristic drivel" with which I originally characterized this album.

"That Time"

This is my favorite song on the album, and the most quintessentially Regina Spektor. It's also probably the most "rock and roll" song of the album. There is this abruptness that chacterizes her singing style and it is especially well executed here, especially when coupled with the more melodic rises and falls. She experiments a lot with sound volume here. The whispering is sexy, but the sudden burst that follows them is even better. And, of course, there is the "so cheap and juicy!" part, which is pretty amazing.


This was originally one of the songs that made me hate the album, but it is quite pleasant to listen to and very pretty. Sure, parts of it are very "Top 40," but it kind of surprises you. I especially love the verse that occurs around 1:39. Her voice is really beautiful and the song is just so happy and catchy, despite the tragedy represented in the lyrics.

"Apres Moi"

This one is a lot darker than the others, and much more reminiscent of Soviet Kitsch. It is very Phantom of the Opera, and the piano is excellent. It could be amazing background music for a grotesque horror film about monsters and vampires in crushed velvet. She also sings in Russian about halfway through, and it is dark and sumptuous. I found this article when I was trying to figure out the dialect. There is a really interesting part about her incorporation of hiccups and odd sounds into her music.

Really, all of the songs on this album get pretty memorable after you listen to them a few times. "Samson" and "20 Years of Snow" are especially representative of her ability to incorporate multiple stylistic elements into a deeply beautiful cocophany of sounds. I feel like this album has texture. It reminds me of dark chocolate, rasberries, black currants, velvet, heavy tapestries.


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